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Friday, October 31, 2008

To bee or not to bee? 

It's October, nearly November. It's cold out. Gloves, hat and coat cold. And there was a huge bumblebee on the train this morning, a real one, not a guy in a bee suit.

It was flying angrily against the light fitting near the door. Sometimes it landed upside-down and rested. Not many people seemed to notice but I was transfixed.

I don't mind bees when there is plenty of room for me to get out of their way. I can stop and admire one flitting around in some flowers without a twinge but the moment I am trapped inside somewhere with one then I start to get edgy.

Being on a crowded train with the doors closed and a bee the size of a family car floating around not six feet away from me is a stressful situation. I didn't panic but I did not take my eyes off it from the moment I saw it.

I was knackered but extremely relieved when we got to Charing Cross.

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Tube 

It was raining this morning so I caught the tube. Unfortunately my mind wasn't working correctly this morning and I go off at Leicester Square instead of Tottenham Court Road.

I realised immediately because everything looked wrong. I couldn't just get back on the tube, however, and had to creep further down the platform to make sure no-one could see me get back on.

Why did I bother doing this?

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Bearded, bald and beyond 

I've just noticed that now I've changed its name, I'm getting more hits on my website than on my blog.

"More" is a relative term, of course. Lets get this into perspective: I'm getting three or four hits per day on the website and one or two on the blog.

Perhaps I should start insulting people again.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I'm reading a how-to-write book! 

Now, just writing that title has opened a whole can of worms.

My attitude towards these sort of books, is one of those worms. I think over the years I have been writing or attempting to write, I realise I have built up a sneering attitude towards them, thinking them a cynical way of exploiting the millions of wannabe writers who haven't the slightest hope of writing a thing. If you do this, this and THIS then you will be published!

I know it's not like that. There is no magic formula for writing a book in such a way to get it published. There are obvious things to avoid which will stop you being published. We all know those: use one side of the paper and don't use crayons. That sort of thing.

Books that purport a magic formula really are exploiting people's desires without actually helping them.

So why am I reading this one?

I have been having a lot of trouble restarting my novel and making the first three chapters the most, instead of the least, interesting. Some time ago Graham gave me a book -- for some reason he had two -- and I put it to one side thinking I might read it one day. The book is The First Five Pages: A Writer's Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile by Noah Lukeman.

Strangely apt for my current situation and so, when I came across the book while clearing out my bedroom in preparation for the delivery of my new bed, I decided to read it.

It turns out it's a great book! It explains a lot of the things that can get a book rejected by a publisher in seconds and then some of the traps an author can avoid once the publisher has no other choice than read the book you've sent.

I am pleased to see that I am wise to quite a few of the traps but, and this is important, I have also fallen foul of one or two as well. There are one or two things I haven't liked about my writing in the past that I had no idea how to fix. Some of the things I write are a bit dry and academic, for instance, and my dialogue needs work. I also need to do rather more showing than telling.

The big thing is that I am plot driven. I have the plot in my head and I am impatient to get it down on paper and because of that other things suffer.

Where the book helps is that Lukeman describes the problems, how to fix them and, most importantly, gives examples. It's very easy for writing teachers to say "show not tell" but rather harder to realise when you are doing that.

I feel rather better armed when I next approach my novel and try to create fully functional gripping first chapters.

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Thursday, October 09, 2008

Slurp! 

One of the things that makes me fume secretly is someone eating noisily. I absolutely hate it and have to block it out, either with great mental effort and teeth grinding or, more often, with my iPod.

I think what makes it more annoying is that I can’t say anything about it. I can’t tell people that they should eat with their mouths closed. Their parents should have done that.

Other people don’t seem to be too bothered by this and yet I have to make sure I’m not near people like that when they are eating or have my iPod handy.

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Just bald and over 40? 

This blog, in the last few weeks, had a slightly bigger than average number of visitors. This is mainly down to the entries about Hyperspace 2008 and that I published a link to them on the TPDIS mailing list.

As a result, I've had more than the usual number of people seeing my website Robert Williams: Fat, Bald and Over 40. I was quite pleased with the comments I received, particularly the ones saying that I am not fat.

This is probably, in the grand scheme of things, quite true. I am overweight, I am bigger than I was five years ago and my trousers are often tighter than I would like. Comparisons with the waistlines pf other men at the gym are fruitless as most are younger and naturally they are fitter and less overweight. It is a gym, after all.

So, perhaps I should change the name of my website. Just Robert Williams - bald and over 40? Robert Williams - gay, bald and over 40? Robert Williams - bearded, bald and something else beginning with B?

Perhaps a more radical shake-up is needed. I think the whole thing is due for a bit of a revamp in any case. There is less and less there due to parts of it migrating: I have a blog here, for instance, and photos on Flickr and other stuff on Facebook.

Half the reason I have the site is because I was given a free domain from my ISP. Do I even need it at all?

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